Is applause appropriate for worship?
This week, I have been thinking about the differing opinions from people about worship. Worship is such a personal thing, but its context is different when we consider cooperate worship. It seems “applause” is one of top three things people often discuss with me. “Volume” is definitely at the top of the list, but I don’t have time to go there today.
Let’s think about applause. What is it?
Merriam-Webster says it is “approval publicly expressed” and I agree.
“Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with sons of joy! God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.”
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn- shout for joy before the Lord, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.”
So, how should we respond? I think a hearty “amen” or applause can accomplish the following:
Christians engage in singing to the Lord, (Colossians 3:16) and make melody to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). I believe when we applaud, we can make the case that it is unto the Lord. We can clap when someone sings, we can clap when someone is baptized, we can clap when someone dedicates their children to the Lord, and we can clap for someone who joins the church.
We would all agree that we don’t want worship to become a performance, but I believe there are many biblical references of using our whole bodies: mind, heart, soul, head, hands, feet, voices and our lips to worship.
When we applaud, we are joining the body of Christ in the work of adoration, praise, and worship. Applauding is a response and testimony to the Spirits work in our lives.
I am the Worship & Music Catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.